Parliament: Farmers in Singapore to be given more help to raise productivity

Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food, but the 200 food farms here help to buffer the nation against global supply disruptions due to factors such as climate change.
Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food, but the 200 food farms here help to buffer the nation against global supply disruptions due to factors such as climate change.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - More help will be given to farmers in the Republic to buffer against any global food supply shocks due to climate change.

This will be done on three fronts - making it easier for farmers to get financial help to adopt technology, growing a pipeline of talent through work-study programmes, as well as rolling out initiatives to boost demand for local produce such as organising more farmers' markets.

These were announced by Senior Minister of State for National Development Koh Poh Koon on Tuesday (March 6) during the debate on his ministry's budget.

On the provision of more financial help, Dr Koh said that enhancements will be made to the existing Agriculture Productivity Fund to make it easier for farmers to employ technology. This will be done by raising the co-funding cap from $700,000 to $2 million for food farms that produce eggs, food fish, leafy vegetables and bean sprouts.

"Many farmers have told us that they are happy to adopt more productive technology. However, new farming systems require heavy capital investments. Advanced greenhouse systems with environmental controls and automation, which can double production, can cost around $4 million," Dr Koh said.

The increase in co-funding cap will help farmers take this leap, he added.

However, Dr Koh noted that not all available technologies in the market can be adopted wholesale in Singapore, due to varying local conditions.

To this end, farmers will be given assistance in testing these new systems prior to large-scale deployment, to ensure that the technology can be adapted to our local conditions and products.

"We will now introduce a new test-bedding component to the Agriculture Productivity Fund to co-fund up to $500,000 for food farms that want to test-bed new solutions," he said.

Dr Koh was responding to Non-Constituency MP Leon Perera and Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC), who had asked for updates on Singapore's agricultural sector.

Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its food, but the 200 food farms here help to buffer the nation against global supply disruptions due to factors such as climate change.

Dr Koh said various government efforts will strengthen the ecosystem and operating environment for local farms.

He added: "But as the industry matures, we also need to start looking at the wider food value chain. We will continue to work towards creating an enabling environment to keep our local agricultural sector commercially viable and sustainable."